Although some may disagree, I believe the Matrix (and by that I mean the first Matrix movie) is one of the best science fiction movies of all time. One of my favorite scenes is when Neo embarks on his plan to rescue Morpheus from the Machines. As Neo prepares, Tank asks him, “So what do you need? Besides a miracle?” and Neo answers, “Guns. Lots of guns.”
The IT version of this scene is the exact opposite. As it relates to IT management tools, it is fair to say that there are just too many out there!
Let’s take a look at the tools required to manage a typical virtualized infrastructure. There’s a tool to set-up and manage SAN and another to manage shared storage to set-up LUNs and disk groups. If you have deployed SSD as a separate appliance, then you have another tool to manage that! Next is your backup software for managing backup jobs and operational recovery. And then, most likely, you may have another management interface to replicate data between locations. And since network bandwidth is often at a premium, you most likely need to deal with the management tool for your WAN optimization appliance.
The list goes on and on! It is no wonder that it can often feel like infrastructure teams are dealing with this:
In fact, we asked ourselves: “Do our customers really need another GUI or can we further simplify IT management? Do they need a Band-Aid or do they need us to solve the real problems at hand?”
The approach we took was to solve the real problems of infrastructure complexity with a focus on global unified management. And to do that, we decided to keep things simple by integrating with existing management tools.
One of the key principles behind global unified management in SimpliVity’s hyperconverged infrastructure is VM-centricity. This means infrastructure teams can manage their virtualized environment with the same tools they already know and inherently understand, such as VMware vCenter. This also means working with orchestration and automation tools, such as VMware vRealize Automation and Cisco UCS Director. Most importantly, regardless of which tool is used, all operations are performed from a VM-centric mind-set, including setting up local and remote backups of data at the VM level. Movement of a VM between data centers is as easy as a right-click, no need to use another interface to configure replication.
The second principle is a bit more obvious – global. This means that all virtualized workloads, whether they are located in a London data center, a manufacturing facility closet, or in MegaCity (tweet me @kcmestre if you get the reference), can be managed from a single vCenter interface. More importantly, this global view happens simply by building out the vCenter inventory. As SimpliVity nodes are added to the inventory, they automatically detect each other and configure themselves into a SimpliVity Federation. (Note: this sci-fi reference is only an accident. A federation refers to a group of SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure nodes, managed as a unified pool of compute, primary, and backup storage resources, located at one or more physical locations). No inter-site connectivity configuration necessary! This also means an entire tech refresh of a data center can be performed without having to make any changes at any of the other locations.
The third principle behind global unified management is that the policies set-up to manage virtualized workloads are abstracted from the infrastructure. What this means is that our software is built with a presentation layer that provides VM-centric interfaces for administering and monitoring virtualized workloads across the entire federation. Administrators or external programs via APIs can perform routine data protection and management operations—clone, backup, restore, move—on individual VMs. The data management layer transparently caches, organizes, deduplicates, compresses, optimizes, copies and moves data across the federation in response to VM data read/write operations, administrator actions and administratively defined policies. How cool is that?!
So although Neo certainly needed more guns in his quest to free Morpheus, more isn’t always better. IT teams certainly don’t need yet another management tool to operate their hyperconverged infrastructure. You can learn more about how SimpliVity integrates seamlessly into vCenter in this video with Jesse St. Laurent, our VP of Product Strategy, here, or if VMware vRealize Automation is your thing, check out our Reference Architecture.